Population control: Can we have a nationwide legislation?

Population Control bill
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Overview: Population Control

Uttar Pradesh and Assam have suggested legislation limiting couples to two children. These states intend to make it ineligible for anyone with more than two children to run for local government office, apply for government jobs, or get other government benefits.

Uttar Pradesh is India’s most populous state, with an estimated 240 million residents, while Assam’s population was projected to reach 34 million in 2021. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has encouraged Karnataka, a state of 68 million people, to implement such legislation.

Are these policies and legislation required in any of these states, or throughout the country? India is the world’s second-most populous country after China, and forecasts indicate that India may overtake China in the next decade. China has eased population control limits to allow for three-child households to combat the country’s greying population.

Methods of population management should be founded on precise population counts and growth trends. The decadal Census is the most accurate approach to establish the number of people living in the country and how the population has increased within the nation, states, and municipalities. India had to postpone the population enumeration exercise due to the Covid19 pandemic.

What do the numbers say?

The findings of the National Family Health Study (NFHS), a survey undertaken periodically by the International Institute for Population Studies on behalf of the Union ministry of health and family welfare, support the patterns identified in the SRS surveys.

Field studies for the latest round of the NFHS were conducted in 2019-20, and the results were released for 22 states and union territories. Due to the pandemic’s disruption of activities, states such as Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, and Bihar are yet to disclose their results.

The average Total Fertility Rate (TFR) in the country declined from 2.7 in 2006-08 to 2.2 in 2016-18, according to SRS figures. The average TFR declined from 3.9 to 3 in Uttar Pradesh (which includes Uttarakhand), from 3.8 to 3.2 in Bihar, from 3.4 to 2.6 in Rajasthan, and from 3.3 to 2.7 in Madhya Pradesh throughout this period. The average TFR of Karnataka has declined from 2.1 to 1.7 overtime, showing that the state’s population has begun to contract and grey.

In 2018, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, and Bihar all had TFRs above the national average of 2.2. The four states had a median of 2.5, 2.7, 2.9, and 3.2, respectively. TFRs are anticipated to have decreased slightly further in these states since then.

Women’s literacy and the TFR are intricately related. Women’s increasing literacy is one of the reasons behind South Indian states’ lower TFR. Furthermore, literacy rates in Assam and Karnataka should be compared to those in Bihar. According to the NFHS survey, women in Assam and Karnataka had literacy rates of 77.2 percent and 76.2 percent, respectively, and TFRs of 1.9 and 1.7, which were much lower than replacement level fertility.

Additionally, according to the SRS Statistical Report, states with a high TFR have a high percentage of female illiteracy. In 2018, the illiteracy rate for women in Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan was above 20% and above 23% in Bihar. In comparison, only 0.5 percent of Kerala’s population and 3.2 percent of Tamil Nadu’s population were illiterate.

UP’s population Control Bill: An overview

The Uttar Pradesh State Law Commission has shown a draft of the proposed population control bill, which advocates for a two-child policy, violating which individuals will be prevented from running for local body elections, applying for government jobs, or getting any government subsidy.

According to the proposed Bill, “Uttar Pradesh has limited natural and economic resources. All residents must have access to basic requirements of life, including inexpensive food, safe drinking water, adequate housing, access to excellent education, economic/livelihood possibilities, and power/electricity for household consumption.”
The Bill states that controlling and stabilising the state’s population is vital to enable sustainable development with more fair distribution.


Conclusion:

A TFR of 2.1 is believed to be the replacement level fertility rate or the rate at which a population replaces itself exactly from generation to generation in the absence of migration. Relying on the data and surveys, it can be concluded that India cannot implement nationwide legislation for population control but there might be a need to propose bills in some states. The state of Uttar Pradesh has a TFR of 2.9 which is above the national average (2.2) which shows the utter need for a bill to control their population.

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